Globus pharyngeus describes the common and uncomfortable sensation of feeling a lump in the throat. Globus pharyngeus accounts for approximately 4 percent of referrals to ear, nose and throat specialists, according to consultant Hisham Khalil. A lump in the throat rarely indicates throat cancer, so globus pharyngeus symptoms are not usually cause for concern.
The cause of globus pharyngeus is unknown. The East Kents Hospitals University reports acid reflux from the stomach may cause a lump in the throat, and certainly many people suffering from acid reflux often experience globus pharyngeus. Another theory suggests that tension in the throat muscles and voice box increase the risk of globus pharyngeus. Stressful situations can also create a lump in the throat.
The lump in the throat felt during an episode of globus pharyngeus may feel very small or as large as a walnut. People experience globus pharyngeus in different areas. The Throat Problems website reports that some people feel a lump around the larynx, while others feel lumps as low as the chest area. The mouth and throat area often feel tight and dry. Some people's voices become hoarse. While alarming, globus pharyngeus does not cause difficulty swallowing, although swallowing may seem to require more effort.
Globus pharyngeus does not pose a threat to health. The Throat Problems website notes, however, that more serious conditions can mimic globus symptoms and also cause a lump in the throat. The presence of a physical lump in the throat requires additional investigation. In most cases, physical throat lumps occur due to swollen lymph nodes or infected throat glands, but can also indicate serious conditions, such as throat cancer. Physical causes must be ruled out before making a diagnosis of globus pharyngeus.
Despite how the condition feels, true globus pharyngeus does not actually cause a lump in the throat. The East Kents Hospitals University suggests trying relaxation techniques such as yawning, to stretch the throat muscles, and drinking cool fluids. Eating may provide temporary relief from globus symptoms, as may antacids, if acid reflux causes the lump in the throat. Sensations caused by globus pharyngeus lead many people to repetitively swallow or clear their throats. Try to resist these urges–swallowing and throat clearing actually worsen symptoms of globus pharyngeus.
Prevention of globus pharyngeus includes improving stress management skills, according to East Kents Hospitals University. Taking time to relax and reduce stress can reduce the feeling of a lump in the throat. Globus pharyngeus is an extremely common condition. Understanding that globus symptoms do not pose a health risk helps reduce anxiety, which may in turn reduce the sensation of having a lump in the throat. Controlling acid reflux also lowers the risk of future globus pharyngeus.